Finding Rental Housing After Spianl Cord Injury

WAGSofSCIWAGSofSCI Posts: 134Moderator Moderator
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Hi friends! 

Quick Question...
After you sustained an SCI, what sort of housing did you transition into? Were you able to stay in your current home or did you have to sell/ rent a new space? 

I am curious about this because my partner and I did have to sell our townhome of 4 flights of stairs and now rent a ground floor condo. We really lucked out with this one as it was the ONLY rental we found in an area we really like but also it is an older building that was originally build for Veterans. Meaning, the door frames are all wider than usual and its more of an open concept home. 

Things we had to think about when we were looking for a rental included doors frame width, height of all counters, bathroom space, was the place big enough to turn around in a chair, were there any lips or steps going to the patio from the door, could Dan fit under the bathroom sink (he still can't), could he reach the cupboards, etc etc. 

These are things that we would have to explain to the owners of the building. One even asked me if I could carry him up 3 stairs- lol! Nope, cannot. He is in a chair ;)

Please share some funny stories if you have any regarding rentals or housing, they are always welcome and maybe we can construct a post to educate the public around housing. 

Thanks a bunch!

Your WAGS of SCI
(Elena and Brooke)


  • BrookeUBrookeU Posts: 130Moderator Moderator
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    Commenting so I can follow this! My brother is trying to find his own place.
  • BrittanyFrankBrittanyFrank Posts: 8Moderator Moderator
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    It is really hard to find rentals that are ADA. But with a lot of research we've been able to find something with no stairs and a garage. The doorways aren't ADA & so there are a lot of marks from my wheelchair & walker. Has anyone dealt with that before? It's not something the landlord can come in and put new doors in. So for now we just make it work. 
  • iamdadmaniamdadman Posts: 137Moderator Moderator
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    When I was injured, we lived in a 3-story house.  It was our retirement home.  It was on the Olympic peninsula in Port Angeles, Washington.  It was idyllic.  We were about 200 feet above the water, could see the lights of Victoria, Canada at night, had bald eagles flying up and down the bluffs and even had deer sleeping under our trees in the back yard or swimming in a pond we made.  I thought the only way we were ever going to leave was feel first but.. the best laid plans and all that.  
    We did try to make it work.  I had some remodeling done; an elevator to get into the house, a stair glide to go upstairs and one to go downstairs.  We also remodeled the upstairs bathroom with a roll-in shower.  It was very tough and we ended up leaving it and moving closer to Seattle, in a town called Mill Creek.  
    I was newly injured and getting on the stair glides freaked me out, especially the one going upstairs.  That is how I injured myself, I fell from the third floor down to the second onto a hardwood floor... about 12 feet. Of course, I didn't have nearly the independence I have now and it was a real struggle.  The other factor was that I was still having to travel into Seattle two to three times a week for therapy and doctor's appointments.  It was an all day affair and included an hours drive to the ferry, a half hour ferry ride and then another hour to get to the hospital.  What made it worse was that in the summer, the ferry would have wait lines and it was literally an all day affair for an hour or two of appointments.  
    Finding accessible housing is nearly impossible based on my experience.  People don't understand what accessible even means.  Last year we went back to New York for my niece's wedding.  My son found a home that was advertised as "accessible."  My son spoke to the lady and explained that I was in a wheelchair and couldn't do stairs and would need a bathroom where I could fit under the sink and get into a shower.  She assured my son that the house was completely accessible.  Thank God my sons were with us because just to get into the house, there were steps.  The bathroom was not accessible at all.  I couldn't get under the sink and the shower was a small stall that had a step up to get into it.  The lady was not helpful at all but at least AirBnB gave us a partial refund.
    The funny story I have is when again we were back in New York this time staying at a Residence Inn by Marriott.  Not a cheap hotel.  Well, they did have a roll-in shower but I still couldn't get under the sink.  In fact, I couldn't even see myself in the mirror by the sink.  I went to the manager of the hotel and complained and she assured me that everything met ADA guidelines.  Of course, they didn't.  I went on the ADA website and actually printed out the guidelines.  But, here is the funny part.  The first time I went to use the shower, I transferred into the shower seat and was washing myself when the whole shower chair came out of the wall.  Fortunately, there was a grab bar that I just managed to grab that prevented me from landing with any force or impact.  I am 6' and weigh 175 pounds and was soapy from head to toe.  So now, I am bare butt naked, all soaped up and holding onto this grab bar with my wife trying to help me but couldn't get any kind of grip due to how soapy I was.  I tell her to call the front desk or my brother and not to worry that I could hold on to the grab bar.  While she was gone I slowly lowered myself to the floor.  A few minutes later my brother shows up from his job which was just down the street.  He is wearing a suit and tie and now he tries to come and help me get up and gets himself all wet.  It was like a Three Stooges episode.  Fortunately, I wasn't hurt at all and the manager gave us 50% off the bill which was nice and I left her the print out of the ADA guidelines. 
    So, if you are able to find something that even resembles an accessible place, grab it they are so few and far between.

  • BrookeUBrookeU Posts: 130Moderator Moderator
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    @iamdadman, I would love to see a law get introduced that requires hotels to make their rooms truly ADA accessible if they are renovating rooms anyway, similarly to the MTA lawsuit. I personally also think the ADA needs to be updated to have more specifics about what "accessible" means.
  • trevorsendeavortrevorsendeavor Posts: 29Moderator Moderator
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    I had to move back in with my parents for a while until I could get my home remodeled and accessible for me after I was injured. Although this wasn't ideal, I am very thankful that I had them to fall back on for about 6 months or so until I could get a lift installed to get into my house along with the . I have been living back at my house now with my girlfriend for the last year or so. 

    All those things that you mentioned I took into account as well! I widened almost all my doors, and removed doors from closets and other rooms where the doors were just in the way. I had to completely flip my bathroom around and redo it in order to maximize the space for a roll-in shower (which was probably the most difficult remodel). There always seems to be something that we are thinking of to change or add on that will make things easier!

    It is crazy to think of some of the houses or properties that people will say are accessible. I have been to many hotels that claim to be accessible and I can't even get into the bathroom, so frustrating!
  • garrisonreddgarrisonredd Posts: 82Moderator Moderator
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    Same here @trevorsendeavor I couldn't tell you how many hotels that claim they are accessible and I couldn't fit in the bathroom.

  • garrisonreddgarrisonredd Posts: 82Moderator Moderator
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    My current home isn't the most accessible I had to learn how to adapt to it.
  • garrisonreddgarrisonredd Posts: 82Moderator Moderator
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    new york is so inaccessible @iamdadman it isn't funny and it's one of the biggest cities in the world. The grand central station subway elevator is always out of service. 
  • BrookeUBrookeU Posts: 130Moderator Moderator
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    @garrisonredd, I posted this in a discussion about my brother's and my trip to Washington DC in March, but here's a hotel shower experience: "The's hard to explain, but it was a roll-in where the entrance was in the back left. The shower head (which was handheld but could only reach about halfway through the long, narrow shower) was at the front. He'd transfer into the shower chair, then I would scoot it forward far enough for the shower head to reach. The shampoo was in a dispenser attached to a high-up part of the shower that he couldn't reach, so I took a plastic bag, pumped a ton of shampoo into it, tied it to the handrail next to him, and made a small hole so he could squeeze it out. Engineering at its finest!"
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